How to Build a Girl does a terrifyingly accurate job of depicting what it’s like to be a sixteen-year-old girl trying to find your identity.
Set in 1990s England, this film adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s book tells the story of a young girl, Johanna Morrigan, who finds her voice through writing reviews on rock bands. With no friends and no confidence, Joanna stumbles her way into womanhood with her journey of being a rock critic. This film doesn’t shy away from the reality of growing up as a woman. In the film, we see Johanna grow into a smart and cunning young woman who is not afraid to explore her sexuality, express herself in her clothing, and stand up against gender inequality.
Through this hilarious, romantic, and timeless coming of age story, Coky Giedroyc shows women the importance of not conforming to the repressive nature of society and being unapologetically yourself. As suggested in the title, How to Build a Girl is a guide that any young woman can use when they begin to face the expectations that are put on us to have a certain look and act a certain way.
Even though we’ve made progress, women are still often told that it’s our fault. We’re told that we cause our own objectification because of the way we dress. We are blamed for ruining men’s lives if we speak up about sexual harassment. We are looked down upon or punished if we speak about sexism and discrimination in the workplace. As a young girl, these ideas were hammered into my head, making me afraid to go after what I want and be bold in the way I live.
How To Build a Girl addresses all of these issues and paints the reality of just how much women can achieve when they push away the pressures of society and go up against the inequality they face on a daily basis. How to Build a Girl is the kind of film I wish I had seen when I was sixteen and trying to navigate my womanhood and find my place in this world. Nonetheless, I’m thrilled to have gotten the chance to see it now.
Mimi Anagli is a student at Michigan State University studying Film, Professional Writing, and French. She is a staff writer and content strategist for the feminist film publication, agnès films and the film production company, Sabana Grande Productions. With her passion for cinematography and writing, she hopes to become a DP while continuing to write about women in film and the amazing work they do.